Traversing the intersectionalities at the third annual Women’s March with trans entertainer/activist Laverne Cox in Los Angeles!
Rainbow artists seeking Grammy glory get nomination kudos from This Way Out Music Focus maestro Steve Sims!
And in NewsWrap: Lithuania’s top court finds residence rights for queer foreign marrieds, El Salvador court deals marriage equality setback, renewed Chechen purge nets 40 and kills two, U.S. Christian haters oppose inclusive anti-lynching bill, Pences pout over grade school bias, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of January 21, 2019
Streets Women & Recording Race!
Program #1,608 distributed 01/21/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Lithuania’s top court okays residence
Feature: Thousands filled the streets in cities across the United States and
Women’s March on January 19th – this despite controversies regarding the leadership that threatened to dampen the event. It was the
Feature: The music world is gearing up for the Grammy Awards, and
Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending January 19, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Monique Lukens and Christopher Gaal
Lithuania’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the Baltic nation must grant residence permits for the legally married foreign spouses of its gay and lesbian citizens.
The nation’s top court said that the routine denial of those permits was discriminatory and a violation of human dignity – even though Lithuania’s Constitution defines civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual.
Vladimir Simonko of the Lithuanian Gay League called it “a progressive ruling that sends an important message to our LGBT community and politicians.”
Not surprisingly, the Roman Catholic Church, the dominant faith of the country’s 2.8 million people, condemned the decision. The Lithuanian Bishops Conference insisted in a statement that, “Marriage, which is the foundation of the family, is contracted by the free will of a man and a woman. … The authors of the Constitution,” it argued, “would have hardly agreed to what the Constitutional Court states in its ruling, which is that the constitutional concept of family is gender-neutral.”
The case centered on a gay man from Belarus, who legally married a Lithuanian gay citizen in Denmark three years ago. National laws regulating the legal status of foreigners, the Constitutional Court decided, does not prohibit the issuance of a residence permit based on the civil marriage of a same-gender couple registered abroad.
But El Salvador’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has rebuffed a challenge to the Central American nation’s Family Code that defines marriage as “the legal union between a man and a woman.” The lawsuit, filed by Rafael Alejandro Rodriguez Colocho, argued that denying the civil institution to same-gender couples violated their rights to freedom, equality, and legal security, and that specifically excluding them was an unconstitutional “omission.” But, reports El Salvador-dot-com, the high court decision, announced on January 17th, said that the Constitution does not “mandate” lawmakers “to regulate marriage between persons of the same sex.”
However, a January 2018 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requires all countries in the region who have not already opened marriage to same-gender couples – and that’s most of them, including El Salvador – to do so. And the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has other marriage equality cases in the pipeline, so the ruling in this particular case is not likely to be the last word on the issue there.
Meanwhile, Taiwan inaugurated a new Premier this week following devastating election defeats for the incumbent. That happened on the same day that voters declared their preference for domestic partnerships for same-gender couples rather than opening civil marriage to them, as a May 2017 ruling by the island’s Constitutional Court required within two years.
LGBTQ activists are reportedly pressing new Premier Su Tseng-Chang to immediately introduce legislation to comply with that ruling. The high court specified that marriage equality would automatically come into force if lawmakers take no action before May of this year.
The Russian LGBT Network announced this week that at least two people have died and about 40 people have been detained in the latest round-up of gays and lesbians in the country’s semi-autonomous Muslim-dominated region of Chechnya. A press release said that the two deaths occurred during torture, and that “it is impossible to name the precise number of victims.”
The purge, which began in 2017, revved up again last month. According to this week’s Russian LGBT Network press release describing the “new wave of persecution,” “Local police make every effort to prevent the victims from leaving the region” or seeking legal relief.
A spokesman for Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov told the Associated Press that reports of a crackdown on LGBTQ people are “complete lies.” Kadyrov, who claims that there are no gay people in Chechnya to “persecute,” has a cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has insisted that his “investigation” of the matter has failed to reveal any evidence to support the charges.
Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s few truly independent news sources, first reported the atrocities in April 2017, subsequently backed up by several other respected outlets.
More than a hundred gay and bisexual men were initially detained and tortured. As many as 26 died in custody, even before the crackdown expanded to include lesbians.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a scathing report last month documenting extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses against LGBTQ people in Chechnya – and that was before the latest wave of detentions began. Activists say the purge never stopped, it has just taken different forms. According to London’s Independent newspaper, the crackdown resumed in late December with the arrest of the administrator of a major online social network catering to gay men in the region.
The Daily Beast reports that families in Chechnya are being ordered to kill their LGBTQ relatives, and that authorities are also demanding ransoms for the release of detained queer family members from those who can pay it.
An evangelical Christian group in the U.S. would probably feel right at home in Chechnya. The Liberty Counsel is lobbying members of Congress to remove specific protections for LGBTQ people in an anti-lynching bill.
It may be surprising that the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act would be needed, but it’s actually not a federal crime. And the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is telling any lawmaker who’ll listen that protecting sexual and gender minorities from lynching will allow LGBTQ people to win more rights. “The old saying is once that camel gets the nose in the tent,” he argues, “you can’t stop [it] from coming the rest of the way in.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Liberty Counsel as an anti-queer hate group.
There have been several attempts over the years in the U.S. to pass a federal law against lynching, a practice that has particularly terrified African-Americans since before the Civil War. Sadly, the mindset for such mob violence still exists today.
The queer-inclusive bill passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate in December. The newly sworn-in House of Representatives, with Democrats now in charge, is expected to pass it sometime soon.
New York legislators dealt a double blow to homophobia and trans-phobia this week. They passed a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for people under the age of 18, and another bill adding transgender people to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crime laws.
In the past, each proposal had been approved by the Democratic-controlled state Assembly, but stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. The November mid-term elections gave Democrats control of both chambers, clearing the way for each of the bills to become law.
Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman sponsored both measures. He said that, “So-called conversion therapy is child abuse – plain and simple.” New York becomes the 15th U.S. state to ban the practice.
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act – or GENDA – was first introduced 17 years ago, but, if it passed in the New York state Assembly, the Senate killed it. The now-approved GENDA outlaws bias based on gender identity or expression, and adds protections for trans people to the Empire State’s Hate Crimes Law.
Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Senate have opposed ENDA – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – which would ban bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression in federal law. New Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already identified passage in her chamber as a top priority. But its fate in the Senate, as in the past, is, at best, uncertain.
And finally, pity poor put-upon U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, whom he calls “mother.” She recently took a job teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia. It requires staff members and parents to sign a pledge that they don’t participate in or condone “homosexual or bisexual activities,” and refuses to enroll, or would expel, LGBTQ-identified students, or the children of same-gender-headed or queer-supportive households.
Karen Pence taught at the school during the 12 years that hubby Mike served in Congress. So “Ma and Pa Pence” just can’t understand why people are making such a big fuss about the widely reported story now. The Vice President told the Catholic network EWTN on January 16th that “to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”
Then they’re certainly not going to like a donation to the school by the Trevor Project, which fights queer youth suicide. We previously told you about A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a children’s picture book offered by HBO’s comedic news commentator John Oliver. It stars a gay rabbit couple as the heroes and a Pence-like stinkbug as the villain, and parodies a book published by Karen Pence and daughter Charlotte about the family’s pet rabbit of the same name. And outsold it, by the way, with all proceeds going to queer-supportive charities.
The Trevor Project announced that they’ve sent a hundred copies of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo to the Immanuel Christian School. The charity said that each book includes a note that “encourages the school’s leaders to accept LGBTQ young people.”
“Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!”